Friday’s Link Attack: CancelColbert Campaign; Girls’ Generation Interview; Yuna Kim’s Record Broken
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 28th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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Park unveils proposals to N. Korea to lay groundwork for unification
GlobalPost

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday unveiled a package of proposals calling for bolstering exchanges with North Korea as first steps toward building trust between the two sides to lay the groundwork for unification.

Park made the announcement during a speech at the Dresden University of Technology in the former East German city of Dresden. The address was watched closely and televised live amid expectations that she would unveil a new vision for unification of the divided Korean Peninsula.

“Now more than ever, South and North Korea must broaden their exchange and cooperation,” Park said in the address. “What we need is not one-off or promotional events, but the kind of interaction and cooperation that enables ordinary South Koreans and North Koreans to recover a sense of common identity as they help each other out.”

South Korea sends back stray North Korean fishing boat
Reuters

South Korea on Friday sent back a North Koreanfishing boat that had drifted across a disputed maritime border off the west coast, the defense ministry said, defusing tensions in an area which has been the scene of deadly clashes in recent years.

South Korea’s military had seized the boat after it ignored warnings to retreat, but later confirmed the vessel had experienced engine failure and the three crewmen had no wish to defect to the South, a ministry official said.

The incident came as the North faced renewed pressure from the international community after it fired two mid-range missiles on Wednesday just as the leaders of the South, Japanand the United States pledged to curb its arms ambitions.

South Korea Returns Bodies of Hundreds of Chinese Soldiers
New York Times

South Korea on Friday repatriated the remains of 437 Chinese soldiers killed during the Korean War six decades ago, making a gesture symbolic of warming ties between the two nations.

China sent a flood of soldiers to help its Communist ally North Korea, which invaded South Korea in June 1950. Its intervention saved the North, whose forces had been pushed back toward the country’s northern corner by American-led United Nations forces later that year. The three-year war ended in a cease-fire, leaving the divided Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war.

Over the years, when South Korea discovered the remains of hundreds of Communist soldiers in old battle sites, it kept them tucked away in a little-known temporary burial ground north of Seoul, until recently known as “the enemy cemetery.”

Energy Panel Approves Contentious Nominee Rhea Suh
Wall Street Journal

Newly minted Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu(D., La.) pushed through a controversial Interior Department nominee Thursday over the united opposition of Republicans.

The committee voted along party lines, 12-10, to approve the nominee, Rhea Suh, to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department. Ms. Suh now advances to the full Senate where she needs 51 votes for confirmation. It was the first nomination meeting presided over by Ms. Landrieu.

“I am sorry we are starting this new era of the Committee on such a troubling note,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) told her usual ally Ms. Landrieu. “I expect that we will be able to work together on many issues that come before us—but this particular nomination is simply not one of them.”

Stephen Colbert vs. the Hashtag Activists
Slate

So: On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert made sport of Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and his plan to undercut criticism of the team name by founding an organization for the uplift of “original Americans.” Colbert ran though all the reasons why this was funny, then called back to a skit from one of the show’s first episodes, way back from the fall of 2005—a joke about the host being caught on a “live feed” playing a racist Asian stereotype (Ching Chong Ding Dong, from Guanduong), then not understanding why it was racist. Colbert would make amends with his new “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” He’d played versions of the game since then, dressing up in a sombrero for “Hispanic heritage month.” It’s one of the Colbert character’s oldest gags—he “doesn’t see color,” so he can’t ever be blamed if he accidentally does something horribly racist.

Most of a day later, the official Twitter account of The Colbert Report tweeted a short version of the joke: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Bad move. This attracted the ire of a 23-year-old freelance writer and hashtag activist named Suey Park, who gained prominence last year with the #NotYourAsianSidekick micromovement.

Anti-Colbert activist, HuffPost Live host grapple over racism, satire
Washington Post

Josh Zepps is a host on HuffPost Live. He presides over many interesting and civil conversations with guests on a wide variety of topics. Generally they end in a civil manner.

Not so much today, because of the issue: On the other end of the video link was Suey Park, the Korean-American Twitter hashtag activist who drew recognition from her campaign #NotYourAsianSidekick.
This week, she roared again, this time in response to a tweet that came from the account of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert show:
“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”

Like most things that emerge from the Colbert universe, that (as the context of the joke made clear) was satire — satire intended to skewer Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who recently launched the Original Americans Foundation at a time when the name of his squad is under fire for being racist.

The satire wasn’t working for Park, who launched #CancelColbert, not to mention a massive discussion about how we mix race and humor, and whether we should at all.

Texas executes man who killed food delivery woman with bat
Reuters

Texas executed convicted murderer Anthony Doyle on Thursday as it kept the pace of executions steady while other states have had to postpone capital punishments because they cannot obtain drugs used in lethal injections.

Doyle, 29, was convicted of beating food delivery woman Hyun Cho, a South Korean native, to death in 2003 with a baseball bat, putting her body in a trash can and stealing her car.

Doyle was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. CDT (2349 GMT) at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville after receiving a lethal injection. He did not make a last statement, a Department of Criminal Justice spokesman said.

Knife Threat Failed to Halt Korea’s First Female Bank CEO
Bloomberg

Facing a desperate, knife-brandishing customer, Kwon Seon Joo knew the value of staying cool under pressure more than two decades before being picked to become the first woman to head a South Korean bank.

In 1992, the now 57-year-old chief executive officer of the country’s fourth-largest lender by assets, Industrial Bank of Korea, was deputy manager of trade finance at a branch in an upscale district of Seoul. Kwon said she agreed to meet a customer presenting forged shipping documents who was demanding a loan because he risked financial ruin after exporting artificial flowers that had been rejected by the recipient. When she refused, he lifted his trouser leg to reveal something tucked in his sock: a knife.

“I was shocked at first, but deep down I was confident that I could resolve the situation with conversation,” Kwon said in an interview at IBK’s headquarters in Seoul last month. She spoke calmly with the man for more than an hour before he walked out with his demands unmet and no one harmed, she said.

Help For Working Women, But Will More Storks Come?
Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s announced more incentives for working women to help boost female employment and improve low birth rates, but it’s unclear if the policies will overcome cultural norms in the workplace.

President Park Geun-hye’s been trying to keep her campaign promise of lifting the total employment rate to 70% by 2017 from 65% currently.

A key to this is getting women to stay in the work force after they start families and have children and on Monday, the Labor Ministry announced that women in their first 12 weeks and the last four weeks of pregnancy may work two hours less, fully paid, starting September.

K-POP PHENOMENON GIRLS’ GENERATION WANT TO MAKE INSECURE MEN FEEL BETTER
Vice

We all know Psy. You’ve probably heard G-Dragon and CL before—on a Diplo or Skrillex beat at the least—and some hundred thousand Lady GaGa fans are about to meet Crayon Pop in stadiums across Middle America and Canada this summer. But there’s no K-pop phenomenon bigger than Girls’ Generation. They remain Korea’s all-time best-selling girl group, their YouTube prowess has trouncedthat of even some of the brightest Western stars, and their tour attendance is astounding. If Korean music is something that’s been brought to your attention sometime in the past half decade, there’s a good chance that had something to do with “Gee,” the undisputed classic of K-pop (watch it above).

After an uncharacteristically long break since their last release—all of two months—and almost a straight year of Japanese records and tours, Girls’ Generation returned late last month with the Mr.Mr. mini-album. We broke bread with all nine (very polite) girls to talk new music, bolstering the flagging confidence of insecure boys, and Korea’s super intense trainee pop regime. Apparently of the 10,000 K-Pop wannabes, only one becomes a star. Steep odds for sure.

2NE1: Crush
Pitchfork

Instead of following a tried-and-true formula of slowly rolling out individual songs and their characteristically flashy videos, the all-female Korean pop supergroup 2NE1 went the opposite direction with their new album, Crush. Announced in January—no advance snippets were available—and released digitally in February, 2NE1 dropped two singles simultaneously (the uptempo pair “Come Back Home” and “Gotta Be You”). Though both unsurpisingly lit up the Korean charts, the excitement—as well as an appearance in a January episode of ABC’s The Bachelor—buoyed an entrance into Billboard 200, where 2NE1 sold more copies in the first week than any Korean outfit in history. The only semi-micro-plotted movement in the whole campaign happened when YG Entertainment bumped the digital release three days—meaning that they broke the record in four days, instead of a full seven—so it would come out on the February 27 birthday of CL, 2NE1’s ascendant star. Hold that thought.

Tickets for the Free LA K-Pop Festival Available Online this Saturday
Soompi

With the LA K-Pop Festival a little more than two weeks away, it has been revealed that tickets will be distributed through Ticketmaster this Saturday at 10am PST on a first come, first serve basis (limit: 2 per person). While the concert is free, a small service fee for Ticketmaster is added.

Physical Ticket Distribution will occur on Saturday March 29 at 10:00am PST at the HwaGae Traditional Market (940 S. Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006) on a first come first serve basis, with up to 5,000 tickets being distributed that day (limit: 2 per person).

Hosted by KBS America and the Los Angeles Korean Association, the event is set for April 12 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The event will start with a day long festival at 10am, followed by a concert at 5:30pm.

Veteran Choo adjusting to left field at Globe Life Park
Dallas Morning News

Shin-Soo Choo on Thursday started a crash course in the art of playing left field at Globe Life Park.

Choo, entering his first season with the Rangers, tried to familiarize himself with the nuances of his new position during an afternoon workout. He also started in left field in the park for the first time in nearly eight years during the exhibition game against Quintana Roo of the Mexican League.

Choo played center field with Cincinnati last season and has fewer career starts in left

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field (60) than the other outfield spots. Choo can apply his experience as a right fielder in that balls will hook and slice toward the left-field line.

“It’s something I’ll have to get used to,” Choo said. “The more I play out there, the more comfortable I’ll be.”

Japan’s Mao Asada breaks Yuna Kim’s world record in women’s short
Fox Sports

Mao Asada of Japan set a world record on Thursday to finish first in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Skating to Chopin’s Nocturne, Asada hit her trademark triple axel at the start of her routine and completed all her remaining jumps to finish with 78.66 points, surpassing the previous record of 78.50 set by Yuna Kim at the Vancouver Olympics.

“As the last competition of this season, I am happy to skate the best short program,” said Asada, a two-time world champion. “My mission here is to perform both programs perfect so already half is done and tomorrow I want to focus on showing everything I have practiced.”

Monday’s Link Attack: SKorea’s Spy Scandal; Korea to File Complaint for Yuna Kim; Top Football Prospect Eyes Auburn
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 24th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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S. Korea keeps wary eye on talks between N. Korea, Japan
Yonhap News

South Korea has been keeping a wary eye on upcoming government-level talks between North Korea and Japan amid concerns that the diplomatic re-engagement between Pyongyang and Tokyo comes without any progress in efforts to denuclearize the North, two South Korean diplomats said Monday.

North Korea and Japan will reopen government-level talks in Beijing on Sunday for the first time in more than a year for discussions on a range of issues, including the North’s abduction of more than a dozen Japanese citizens decades ago.

The move comes as unpredictable North Korea is making a hawkish-dovish approach to the outside the world, while pushing ahead with nuclear and missile programs despite international sanctions.

Suicide Attempt Adds Another Twist to Korea Spy Scandal
Wall Street Journal

A South Korean intelligence officer attempted suicide on Saturday, marking another twist in the escalating spy scandal that has gripped the country in recent months.

The agent, identified only by his surname Kwon, was found unconscious in his car in a Seoul suburb, according to a fire department official, whose team first reached the site. Coal ash was found inside the car, in what appeared to be an attempt at carbon monoxide poisoning.

A spokesman for the National Intelligence Service on Monday confirmed Mr. Kwon’s suicide attempt and his hospitalization.

N.Korean Propaganda Against the South Is Failing
Chosun Ilbo

North Korean textbooks describe South Korea as a “fascist, military dictatorship” filled with “poverty and starvation,” but fewer and fewer North Koreans are buying the propaganda.

◆ “Living Hell”

North Korean textbooks teach that South Korea is dominated by “foreign powers” that trample on the Korean people and “taint” its history, language and way of life. A book of writings purportedly by former leader Kim Jong-il describes the South as a “living hell” dominated by the “terror and repression” of the U.S.

The North also teaches students that the U.S. must be driven out and South Korea liberated. Textbooks say U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea “fire guns in broad daylight, plunder homes and rape women.” There are also rumors that North Korean defectors have their “eyes gouged out and limbs severed” if they go to South Korea.

‘I’d Been Brainwashed’: The North Korean Defector Living In London
Vice News

Kim Joo Il, 39, served eight years in the North Korean army. In 2005, after realizing his country wasn’t quite the paradise he’d been led to believe it was, he escaped the Hermit Kingdom by swimming to China. He now lives in London, where he’s the vice president of the Association of Korean Residents in Europe, works with North Korean refugees, and raises awareness about the North Korean regime’s human-rights violations. I recently caught up with him, and this is what he told me about life in his native country.

When I heard Kim Il-sung had died, I was near the 38th parallel [the DMZ between North and South Korea]. There was no electricity in North Korea that day, but I was so near the South Korean border that I heard them announce his death over the loudspeakers. I thought to myself, That’s bullshit—he’s not dead. How can the Great Leader be dead? He’s immortal.

It was impossible to imagine. I cried. We all did. Every morning, soldiers would line up to put flowers on his memorial, and we were all crying, crying, crying. Everyone was saying, “How can we survive, how will we live, what’s our destiny, now that our leader has gone?” If you’re brainwashed, that’s how you think.

Obamacare: Asian-Americans sign up in droves; Latinos disproportionately stay away
San Jose Mercury News

You’ve heard about the achievement gap, the wide disparity in educational performance between disadvantaged minorities and the rest of the student population.

Now comes the insurance gap, and in California it’s playing out most notably in the number of Latinos and Asian-Americans signing up for private health plans under the new health care law.

Of the nearly 700,000 people who enrolled in a health plan as of Feb. 28 through the Covered California health insurance exchange and identified their ethnicity, 23.1 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander. Twenty-two percent were Latino.

But the statistics are startling when you consider that Latinos make up 38.2 percent of California’s population and Asians just 13.7 percent.

Groupon therapy
The Economist

GROUPON seems to be confused. The American e-commerce company, best known for its “flash sales”, recently announced it would soon shutter its Korean subsidiary. Despite vigorous marketing since it entered South Korea’s thriving e-commerce market in 2011, Groupon Korea has remained a laggard behind the three big domestic rivals: TicketMonster—Korea’s first “social” e-commerce provider, launched in 2010—Coupang and WeMakePrice.

The decision to close its Korean subsidiary comes only a couple of months after Groupon bought TicketMonster (known locally as T-Mon, pictured) for $260m—making South Korea Groupon’s second-largest market outside America. Yet the two moves have a common root: the withdrawal is proof of how hard it is to crack the Korean e-commerce market—and the acquisition shows the best way how to go about it.

Groupon is not the only Western internet firm that has lost out to local champions and given up in recent years. In 2012 Yahoo stopped producing content for the Korean market, after years of trailing behind Naver and Daum, two home-bred search engines. Google accounts for a measly 4% of searches there. Auction, Gmarket and 11st Street, Korean hybrids of Amazon and eBay, do far better than its Western models. EBay was the first to take radical action: in 2009 it bought Gmarket for $1.2 billion. Groupon, too, plans to learn from T-Mon, its South Korean acquisition.

South Korea Will Finally File a Complaint About Kim Yu-Na’s Silver Medal
The Wire

With World Championships of figure skating beginning on Monday, South Korean Olympic Committee has said that it will file a complaint to the International Skating Union about an alleged breach of the code of ethics during the ladies competition at the Sochi Olympics. It’s a complaint the Koreans are afraid they’ll be punished for.

The complaint named judges Alla Shekhovtseva of Russia and Yuri Balkov of Ukraine. Shekhovtseva is married to the head of the Russian figure skating organization and was the judge seen hugging gold medal winner Adelina Sotnikova moments after the competition, and Balkov, who allegedly has ties to Moscow, was suspended for trying to fix a result during the 1998 Olympics. Both judges scored the ladies free skating competition, which saw Sotnikova receive the highest scores of her life and Kim Yu-na a silver medal free skate that many experts say was underscored.

The KOC and Korean Skating Union are asking for a thorough investigation of the judging composition and whether it was biased toward Sotnikova. And they filed the complaint knowing that it might result in retaliation. “We had to be very careful since an appeal or a complaint could strain relationships with international judges and bring disadvantages to our players in international games,” a KOC official said on Friday.

‘Auburn is my No. 1,’ says 4-star offensive lineman Kaleb Kim
AL.com

Offensive lineman Kaleb Kim of Hoschton, Ga., named Auburn his favorite school on Saturday and hopes to make his commitment when spring practices end in May, reports 247Sports.

“Auburn is my No. 1,” Kim said after watching practice during his third visit to Auburn Saturday. “I liked what Coach (J.B.) Grimes is doing, and his intensity. I was standing by him the whole time. He gets after it. He’s intense. Face to face, he’s the nicest guy, but on the field it’s all business and he’ll get after you and I like that.”

The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder added Georgia is his second favorite school. He also holds offers from Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida State and Ohio State, among others.

Liverpool and Chelsea battle to land Barca wonderkid striker
Daily Star (U.K.)

Reports in Spain claim that both title chasing teams want to sign the young striker to his first professional contract.

Both clubs have been successful in snaffling up other promising cadets from the Nou Camp, but will have to move fast if they want to do the same with Woo Lee.

The youngster is understood to be close to completing a deal with Barcelona, who has also been offered bumper deals from the English teams.

Barcelona are known to have lost several of their most promising stars to their European rivals in recent years, with Julio Pleguezuelo, Josimar and Canos leaving Spain to join Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

Seoul Restaurants’ Missing Ingredient: Chefs
Wall Street Journal

Korean cuisine arouses so much national pride that some South Koreans reach into their own pockets to advertise a single dish on major U.S. newspapers. So why are South Korean restaurants often ignored by food critics?

Hooni Kim, owner and chef of New York’s Danji restaurant–one of the few Michelin-starred Korean restaurants–says Seoul’s food scene lacks a key ingredient: chef-owned Korean restaurants.

Many of South Korea’s family-owned, down-to-earth restaurants specialize in a single dish that are based on recipes laid down by family matriarchs, but don’t have chefs who create their own sauce base, according to Mr. Kim.

Crisis in Korea as younger generation abandons kimchi
The Guardian

Its unmistakable smell permeates Seoul subway carriages during the rush hour, and aficionados claim it is the healthiest food on the planet.

Once valued as a source of vitamin C before the arrival of refrigerators, kimchi now crops up on menus far from its birthplace on the Korean peninsula. The spicy, garlicky cabbage dish is to be found as a pizza topping and taco filling in the UK, Australia and the US, where the Obamas are said to be converts. Kimjang, the traditionally communal act of making kimchi, was recently awarded world cultural heritage status by Unesco.

But despite its growing popularity in restaurants from Los Angeles to London, South Korea’s national dish is in crisis in its country of origin. To kimchi’s basic ingredients of napa cabbage, garlic, seasoning and copious amounts of chili powder, we can now add a trade war with China and fears of lasting damage to Korean cultural identity.

Inside South Korea’s Coolest Military Theme Park
Kotaku

This is the Wanju Military Theme Park in South Korea. If only more video game first-person shooters were this colorful!P

The self-described “military theme park” is an airsoft pellet gun map that uses the GunPower system. According to YouTube user Ds4odk, this system employs wireless BB detectors—one on the front, one on the back, one of the helmet, and one on the face goggles. Hits are signaled by LED light and electronic sound feedback, and kills are then registered on a central computer, and this particular map has closed circuit cameras.P

Do note that the “SF Special Force” logos throughout might be nod to online shooter Special Force, which is, as tipster Sang points out, called Soldier Front in the States.

The Cutest Yuna Kim Impersonation Ever
KoreAm
Author: KoreAm
Posted: March 20th, 2014
Filed Under: Video of the Week
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When Yuna Kim fell short of gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, an entire nation was outraged by the results. But one young fan could care less. Continue Reading »

Tuesday’s Link Attack: SKorea Signs Trade Pact With Canada; Pope to Visit Seoul; Korean Emoticons
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 11th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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North Korea Skillfully Evades Sanctions, U.N. Panel Says
New York Times

Recent inspections and seizures of banned cargo have shown that North Korea is using increasingly deceptive techniques to circumvent international sanctions, a panel of experts said in a report to the United Nations Security Council published Tuesday.

After a series of nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests by North Korea over the past decade, the Security Council has adopted resolutions calling for increasingly vigorous sanctions aimed at crippling the North’s financial and technical capability to build weapons of mass destruction.

In its latest annual report, posted Tuesday on the United Nations website, the panel of eight experts said that North Korea has persisted in defying those resolutions not only by continuing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs but also by engaging in illegal arms trade.

Growing Chinese Influence Worries N.Korean Officials
Chosun Ilbo

There are “serious concerns” among some North Korean officials that North Korea could turn into a vassal state of China amid growing economic dependence on its sole ally, a defector said Monday.

Kim Chong-song, who under his real name used to be a senior member of the Workers Party, is the highest-ranking North Korean defector living in the South and spoke to media here for the first time.

“Without Chinese capital and goods, it would be impossible for the North Korean government to operate, and ordinary people would not be able to carry on with their daily lives,” Kim said. “North Korea grew so dependent on China in the 20 years of Kim Jong-il’s rule that it’s now impossible to construct buildings, grow farm produce, or sustain the regime without imports of Chinese materials, fertilizer and pesticides.”

S. Korean charity to send aid to N. Korea under tension
Yonhap News via GlobalPost

A South Korean charity announced on Tuesday it will provide aid for children and expectant mothers in impoverished North Korea, under lingering tensions on the peninsula.

ChildFund Korea said it will ship 200 tons worth of wheat flour and bean flour north of the border. It represents South Korea’s largest private aid to the North under President Park Geun-hye.

According to ChildFund Korea, North Korea has pledged to share the foodstuffs with about 23,000 children and 29,000 pregnant women.

Unified Korea would become world’s 8th largest economy by 2050: think tank
Yonhap News

If North and South Korea were to unify within the next year, Korea would have the eighth largest economy in the world by 2050 with a per capita income exceeding that of Japan, a report by a local think tank claimed Tuesday.

According to Hyundai Research Institute (HRI), one of South Korea’s largest research institutions, unification would generate new growth engines and create a sizable domestic market that would make the country less reliant on overseas markets.

“The increase in population and market would make it possible to deal effectively with the drop in economic growth potential and the country’s weakness to external economic developments,” said Hong Soon-jick, head of the HRI’s unification economy center.

Canada, South Korea conclude long-delayed free trade deal
Reuters

Canada and South Korea announced on Tuesday they had wrapped up talks on a long-delayed free trade deal which had stalled for years amid squabbles over exports of autos and beef.

The deal – outlined in a statement by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – is particularly important for Canada, which is trying to cut its reliance on the U.S. market.

The agreement is the first Canada has concluded with a nation from Asia, a fast-growing part of the world that Ottawa is deliberately targeting.

Canada’s Trade Ministry says exports to South Korea in 2012 were worth C$3.7 billion ($3.4 billion) while imports from South Korea hit C$6.4 billion.

Pope Visit Caps Banner Year for Korean Catholics
Wall Street Journal

The Pope says he loves Korea. And to prove it, he’s making his first trip to the country later this year, adding to a recent string of coups for South Korea’s Catholics.

On Monday, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis would visit in August, marking the popular pontiff’s first trip to Asia since he was elected pope, a year ago this week.

The papal visit, the first to South Korea since John Paul II’s visit in 1989, is the latest — and biggest — coup for South Korea’s Catholic church this year, which generally keeps a lower profile than the country’s Protestants.

SBS Hands Over Footage in Dating-Show Suicide
Chosun Ilbo

Broadcaster SBS has handed over raw footage from the blind-date program “Jjak” to police after a contestant killed herself during filming on Jeju Island last week.

A police spokesman said investigators want to check whether the woman suffered “undue pressure or humiliation” during filming of the typically adversarial program.

The contestants on the show, a Korean version of U.S. program “The Bachelor,” are herded together in a hotel for weeks and filmed practically every waking moment.

LA Web Festival to screen ‘Kimchi Warrior’ animation
Korea Times

Kimchi superhero animation will screen at one of the largest U.S. web series festivals.

According to the LAWEBFEST 2014, Korea-born director Kang Young-man’s “Kimchi Warrior” episodes are included in its final play list for the five-day event scheduled for March 26-30. It is the first time that a Korean director has been invited to the festival.

Kang’s two episodes, each running 5-6 minutes, contain blend of martial arts, comedy, and the promotion of good health. Web series are three-to-six minute-long serialized videos in various genres that are rapidly spread through YouTube and SNSs.

“It is a unique blend of martial arts, comedy, and the promotion of good health. Based on the premise of ‘Popeye,’ our hero obtains supernatural strength by consuming the most prominent Korean dish to defend mankind from the world’s most notorious diseases such as swine flu, mad cow disease, malaria and SARS,” Kang, director of L.A.-based YMK Films, said in a statement on its website.

In second camp, Dodgers and Ryu more comfortable
MLB.com

The Dodgers use the word “comfortable” so much to describe pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu this Spring Training compared to last, you’d think he’s throwing from a Barcalounger.

The fact is, it’s the Dodgers who are more comfortable this Spring with Ryu.

Last Spring, they had a rocky honeymoon. Ryu reported out of shape, unaware that Major Leaguers are expected to be ready from Day One of camp and not work themselves into fitness.

He believed the six-year, $36 million contract he signed to leave Korea assured him a spot in the starting rotation. Management, though, got a little worried as he struggled in exhibition games and began talking about “competing” for a job.

IOC admits misquoting Yuna
Korea Times

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) admitted that a quote attributed to figure skater Kim Yuna was fabricated in a news story published on its website during the recent Sochi Olympics.

“It was originally written by one of our ‘young reporters’ (young trainee reporters from the Youth Olympic Games), but Kim Yuna’s agent contacted us to say she felt that the quote was not accurate,” IOC media relations manager Sandrine Tonge told The Korea Times on Monday.

“We felt it was better to remove it since this was not integral to the story and we wanted to be accurate.”

Stargazers Witness Close Encounter
Chosun Ilbo

A bright shining object in the skies captivated observers in Suwon on Sunday night. Experts say it was probably a shooting star.

The object blazed across the night sky for some moments before crashing to earth.

Several videos capturing the scene from in-car systems were posted on social networking sites.

On Monday morning, a black rock measuring 25 by 50 cm and presumed to be part of a meteorite was found in a greenhouse in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province.

Korean Emoticons Infographic
Dom & Hyo

Check out this super cute infographic about Korean emoticons. This useful guide will show you some new ones, for sure.

World’s Largest Asymmetrical Building to Open in Seoul
Wall Street Journal

Seoul unveils to the public next Friday what is likely to be South Korea’s most controversial building in recent memory.

Designed by Pritzker-winning Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the seven-story Dongdaemun Design Plaza is the world’s largest asymmetrical free form building, according to its operator Seoul Design Foundation. With a floor area of 86,574 square meters (931,875 square feet), the structure spans three underground levels and four above ground, and occupies a site of more than 25,000 square meters — equivalent to 3.5 soccer fields.

The building’s exterior is noted for its grass-covered tops and its 45,133 aluminum panels, each individually shaped.

Built on a historic site adjacent to the ancient capital’s east gate, the structure contains exhibition spaces and conference centers as well as workshops and boutiques. The shows for the 2014 Fall/Winter Seoul Fashion Week will take place at its opening next Friday.

Monday’s Link Attack: Japan Won’t Revise Comfort Women Apology; Run River North Charts; Hyun-Jin Ryu
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 10th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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Japan Won’t Alter Apology to World War II Sex Slaves
New York Times

Japan will not revise a landmark apology to women forced to work in military brothels during World War II even as it moves ahead with a review of the testimony used to create that apology, a spokesman for the Japanese government said Monday.

Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, told reporters that the conservative government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had no intention of changing the 1993 apology, called the Kono Statement. The apology admitted for the first time that the Imperial military played at least an indirect role in forcing the women, known euphemistically as “comfort women,” to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

Mr. Suga was responding to rising criticism from South Korea, a former Japanese colony where many of the women came from, of an announcement made two weeks ago by Mr. Suga that the government would review evidence used to support the apology. At that time, Mr. Suga said the government would form a panel of experts to review the evidence used to back up the statement, mostly testimony made two decades ago by 16 aging former sex slaves.

North Korea Election: A Sham Worth Studying
TIME.com

Kim wins. That is the unsurprising outcome of North Korea’s first legislative election under the leadership young dictator Kim Jong Un. State media report that nearly 100% of eligible North Koreans voted in Sunday’s poll, and 100% cast votes in favor of the status quo. This is only partly as ridiculous as it sounds: voting is mandatory and there is one option on the ballot.

Indeed, when North Korea votes, it votes. When exactly 100% of eligible North Korean set out to cast votes 100% in favor of pre-determined politicians, they were carried forth on “billows of emotion and happiness,” state media reported. And nowhere were they happier — or more billowy, presumably — that in Kim Jong Un’s district, Mount Paektu, the Korean peninsula’s highest peak. The group that voted at the storied site were so moved by the exercise that they spontaneously burst into song, state media said.

North Korean Flagged Tanker Puzzles Observers
Wall Street Journal

Is North Korea trying to import oil from rebel forces in Libya?

The Libyan government and militias are threatening to attack a North Korean-flagged tanker off its coast that they say rebels are hoping to use to export oil from the port of al-Sidra.

“Any attempt (by the tanker) to move, it will be turned into scrap,” Libyan Culture Minister Al-Habib al-Amin said on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The presence of the tanker, named “The Morning Glory,” has puzzled observers because it’s very unusual for North Korean-flagged vessels to appear in the Mediterranean.

Dennis Rodman pledges to end North Korea trips
Sporting News

Dennis Rodman, back from a North Korea trip that included an exhibition game and birthday song for Kim Jong Un, has pledged he will not make a return visit to the dictator if that is not what people want.

Rodman said he went to North Korea with pure intentions, stating that he only wants to “do great things in life” in a television interview with ESPN’s Mark Schwarz.

“I wish they understood the whole purpose of why I went to North Korea,” Rodman said. “I wish they did.”

Kim Jong-un’s Sister Secures Place in Nomenklatura
Chosun Ilbo

North Korea’s state-run media have for the first time mentioned leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Yeo-jong by name, suggesting she has established a position of some influence for herself in the corridors of power.

North Korean state TV on Sunday reported that Kim Jong-un visited a polling station at Kim Il-sung University for elections for the Supreme People’s Assembly on Sunday, accompanied by military politburo chief Choe Ryong-hae, Workers Party deputy directors Kim Kyong-ok and Hwang Pyong-so, “and comrade Kim Yeo-jong.”

Challenging South Korea’s Gender Barrier
Wall Street Journal

When Cho Eun-sook started her career as the first female software developer at LG Electronics Inc. in 1988, there was no such thing as maternity leave. Instead, she took vacation days to give birth to her two sons.

Now in her 27th year at the company, Ms. Cho runs mobile accessory development and is one of three female vice presidents at the company.

Ms. Cho was one of more than 120 female engineers who met to discuss women working in technology at an event hosted by Google Inc. in Seoul on Friday to mark International Women’s Day.

Fugitive tracked by Tribune is returned from S. Korea
Chicago Tribune

U.S. authorities today extradited international fugitive Kyung Ho Song to Chicago from his native South Korea, more than a decade after Song fled Cook County to avoid being tried on charges of drunken driving and reckless homicide.

The hunt for Song was reactivated after the Tribune contacted prosecutors and police about the dormant case in connection with its 2011 “Fugitives From Justice” investigation. The Tribune separately tracked down Song in a suburb of Seoul and interviewed him there in early 2012.

Korean authorities arrested Song in December 2013 on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant, and the Korean ministry of justice authorized his extradition back to Chicago.

Affirmative action amendment has some Asian-Americans furious
Southern California Public Radio

A proposal to reinstate affirmative action at California’s public universities is riling some Asian-American groups more than any recent political issue, with critics unleashing their anger on social media and in protests and public meetings.

At issue is a Democrat-backed bill that would lift a 1996 ban keeping University of California and California State University schools from considering race or ethnicity in admissions and recruitment.

SCA 5 – short for Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 – passed on a party-line vote in the state Senate late January, and if it’s approved by the supermajority in the Assembly, Californians could vote on the issue as early as this year.

More charges after cyclist killed in W. Colorado
AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A 29-year-old Palisade woman involved in a crash in western Colorado that killed a man on a cross-country bicycling trip is now facing several drug charges.

Prosecutors say Tonie Rosales used cocaine for two days in September before heading to Delta for a court hearing relating to a prior DUI arrest. She struck and killed 25-year-old Eunjey Cho on U.S. Highway 50 on her way to court Sept. 18 and was formally charged with the drug offenses Thursday.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1gc4wnD ) Rosales already has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide — one alleging DUI and another alleging reckless driving.

Brentwood girl gets two perfect ACT scores, looks to future in science
The Tennessean

For most students, taking the ACT is a rite of passage.

It can be an eye-opening and sometimes brutal experience, often repeated to achieve better results and possibly gain college scholarship money and win selective admission.

But for Joyce Kang, a senior at Brentwood High School, the college entrance exam was a piece of cake both times she took it. That’s right: She made the highest possible score — 36 — both times.

Kang had to endure the exam a second time because she didn’t take the ACT written assessment the first time.

Folk rockers Run River North flows in the right direction on debut album
Music Times

Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven’t heard of.

Week of 03/07/2013
WHO: Run River North
WHAT: Run River North
SPOT: 196

Run River North first came to our attention in a method befitting the the style of music they play. The six-piece had assembled its own music video (under its then name Monsters Calling Home) shooting inside a Honda Fit. The car company appreciated the gesture and hooked them up with Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Uncomfortable questions with Shin-Soo Choo
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)

Shin-Soo Choo’s big league career began when he was 22 as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners. He is 30 now, and should be fairly secure with the seven-year, $130 million contract he signed with the Texas Rangers in the offseason. He should be able to live off that for at least two to three years.

A native of South Korea, Choo is expected to bat leadoff hitter, and be the Rangers’ every day left fielder. He was nice enough to answer some uncomfortable questions.

Dodgers to start Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu in Australia openers
Los Angeles Times

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly made official Sunday what had been suspected for some time: Left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are set to start the team’s season-opening games against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia.

But anything beyond that, Mattingly said, is still to be determined.

“We still haven’t made all our decisions on exactly how we’re going to set up our roster,” he said. “So those are issues that we continue to talk with guys about.”

IOC Deletes Fake Quotes from Kim Yu-na
Chosun Ilbo

The International Olympic Committee has quietly deleted fabricated quotes from Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-na that appeared to downplay controversy over judging irregularities at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The IOC published an article with the implausible quotes on its official website on March 6, focusing on figure skaters from the Innsbruck Youth Winter Olympics who won medals in Sochi.

One skater in focus was Russian gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova. The IOC claimed Kim had been “magnanimous in defeat” after a highly dubious judging decision in Sochi put her in second place.

Kim Yu-na to hold farewell ice shows in May: agency
Yonhap News

South Korean figure skating icon Kim Yu-na will hold farewell ice shows in Seoul this spring, her agency announced Monday.

All That Sports said Kim will take the center stage at her corporate-sponsored ice shows from May 4 to 6 in the nation’s capital.

The 23-year-old star retired from competition after the Sochi Winter Olympics last month. She picked up the silver medal behind Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, after winning the gold at the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

The agency said the three days of performances will be Kim’s last appearances on ice as a figure skater. Through the agency’s press release, Kim said she hopes to take the opportunity to show her appreciation for her fans.

Beverly Kim and John Clark Plan to Open Parachute
Chicago Magazine

When the husband-and-wife chef team Beverly Kim and John Clark took over the now-defunct Bonsoirée in 2012, they fulfilled a dream of working together on a Korean-inspired modern restaurant. Unfortunately, the dream lasted only a few months there, and Bonsoirée closed.

After a year-plus deferral, they’re leaping back into their restaurant-ownership dream, and if you leap, you need a Parachute (3500 N. Elston Ave., Avondale, no phone yet). The 40-seat, liquor-licensed, Korean-American-perspective restaurant is scheduled to open in April.

Kim and Clark say the food will pull together traditional Korean flavors with new and creative ones. “Reminiscent of familiar traditional flavors, but presented in a new creative way,” Kim says. As an example, they offer a crispy mung bean pancake with pork belly, black garlic, and kimchi. The menu breaks down into snacks in the $4 to $7 range, appetizers such as crudos or salads, rice and noodles, and larger plates intended for sharing and costing between $18 and $25.

Korea’s Most Popular Online Eating Shows
Wall Street Journal

One of South Korea’s hardest-to-explain phenomena in recent months is the boom of “mokbang”: Internet-streamed shows where hosts eat often supersized meals – for the audience’s pleasure.

Choi Ji-hwan, a top mokbang host, told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that one of his satisfied viewers was on a diet seeking a vicarious thrill. Others were living alone and enjoyed his virtual company as they ate “together.”

Every night on a local YouTube-like platform AfreecaTV, multiple show hosts vie to be selected by hundreds of thousands of viewers. Several of them make a living through these shows and have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

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